Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stop IBOC Now!



As of September, 2008:

(the remainer are “digital daytimers” meaning that directional antenna systems used at night will not work properly with HD. The overall figure of 258 includes a number of AM stations noted as “intermittent operation” meaning HD broadcasts may be infrequent or irregular.)


Note: Most AM stations utilizing IBOC do not utilize the system at night. According to IBOC proponents, as of October 2007, “fewer than 100 stations” are utilizing the system because of skywave adjacent-channel interference problems (see “DROPPING LIKE FLIES,” this site.) An unknown number of AM stations using IBOC are “daytimers” meaning they have no nighttime authority under any circumstances, or are “daytimers with post-sunset authority” meaning they have very small nighttime operating power. Since IBOC utilizes only about 1/100th of AM carrier power the system would not work reliably with the usual PSSA authorized station, operating with only 5 to 50 watts, so daytimers are not candidates for nighttime use of the system.

For a running pop-count of AM stations operating IBOC, a constantly updated list including data from numerous sources:


Although radio’s biggest company (and a major investor in iBiquity), Clear Channel has moved decisively to end adjacent-channel IBOC interference emanating from its heritage flagship WRVA 1140 in Richmond, VA. CC won’t comment publicly but internal sources tell that nighttime IBOC has ceased on WRVA because of destructive interference to three high-power AM stations the company owns in Detroit, Milwaukee and Minneapolis operating on adjacent 1130 kHz.

The 1130s all operate with powers between 10 and 25kw at night and utilize complex 9-tower directional arrays, and are highly impacted by the nighttime noise from Richmond.


CBS, a stalwart booster of IBOC and investor in iBiquity and the HD Alliance, has stopped IBOC on legendary KMJ. No reason was given publicly.


The 50kw Cumulus outlet in San Mateo, CA, has stopped its IBOC operation without explanation to the public.

They’re turning off HD in Washington, DC

Well, this time it’s not an anomaly or a digital exciter glitch—at least not that we can see. For weeks now the Washington, DC market has been turning off its HD Radio signals en masse. There is no longer any station in the market on AM broadcasting in HD. ESPN Deportes Radio/Red Zebra’s 730 WXTR-AM long ago shut off the signal. But now that list includes 630 WMAL (Citadel); 570 WTNT (Clear Channel); Red Zebra’s 980 ESPN Radio; and 1500 WFED-AM (Bonneville). The FM list now includes 106.7 WJFK-FM (CBS Radio); 102.3 WWMJ-FM (Radio One); 104.1 WPRS-FM (Radio One) and 107.7 WWWT-FM (Bonneville).

RBR/TVBR observation: The most likely culprit is licensing fees. Just not worth it for some in tough economic times. Also, these FMs did not have HD multicast (HD2) signals, and two of them were broadcasting in mono—so what’s the point? For the AM side, unless you are 50,000 watts, most radios can’t pick up AM HD very far from the tower array. WFED is 50-kW, but you’d never know it because of its higher frequency—just doesn’t propagate well.

We got 2008 about half right – now for 2009

We got 2008 about half right – now for 2009

Hey, nobody said our crystal ball was without clouds. We peered into its misty interior about this time last year and jotted down what we thought we saw, and the result was a batting average of somewhere around .500. That’s good enough to guarantee instant enshrinement in baseball’s Hall of Fame, but if we posted the same .500 on our first grade exam results, we’d be looking at repeating that grade again. Since we aren’t about to do that, we’ll be content to audaciously repeat our attempt at prognostication again for 2009. Read them, if you dare.


* HD Radio licenses will not be renewed with many broadcasters.


Cap-Ex Will Be Taut in '09

Cap-Ex Will Be Taut in '09

by Randy J. Stine, 12.30.2008

Corporate radio engineering managers acknowledge that this fall's capital budgeting process for 2009 was especially tough as revenue and cash flow dip and as credit for projects and purchases has become more difficult to obtain.

Faced with another year of economic uncertainty and now, officially, a full-blown recession, broadcasters are being forced to prioritize capital spending on equipment and facility buildouts, industry insiders say.

Even broadcast equipment manufacturers and suppliers — who as a group tend to use optimistic language whenever describing the state of their business — believe spending by stations is likely to be very conservative in 2009. The impact will be felt in HD Radio deployments and large RF projects, some experts believe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

iBiquity Collecting Retail Tales

How many stories have you heard where someone asked to see the HD Radios in a consumer electronics store, and that person was directed to the satellite radio displays? If you go into a CE retailer and don't see HD Radios on display, or they're not turned on or are in a closed display case, talk to the store manager, and drop a line to iBiquity Digital.

iBiquity wants to hear about retail experiences for HD Radio, both good and bad. That's according to Vice President, Broadcast Business Development Scott Stull, who spoke during yesterday's HD Radio Webinar hosted by Broadcast Electronics.

[they may want to start with this report - ed.]

IBOC+Satellite? Subscribers Not Impressed

Commenters Oppose Rules to Mandate It in Their Radios

When the Federal Communications Commission okayed the merger of Sirius and XM this August, commissioners pledged to initiate a Notice of Inquiry on the issue of requiring satellite radios to also receive IBOC signals "or any other technologies capable of providing audio entertainment services," according to the decision.

Radio World peeked into MM Docket 08-172. Initial public comments were due Nov. 10 and replies are due on Dec. 9.

As of mid-October, there had been about 30 comments filed, mostly from satellite radio subscribers who opposed a mandate, as well as an amateur radio operator who opposed it and one broadcaster who supported the concept.

Exploring HD-R Availability in Philly

So how is HD Radio doing in Philly? Badly.

Friday, April 25, 2008

HD Radio Gear: The Good and the Better

There's AM, FM, shortwave, satellite, Wi-Fi -- and now HD.

HD Radio is the broadcasters' answer to XM(XMSR - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) and Sirius(SIRI - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) -- digital streams of music and talk that are broadcast on the FM dial -- along with the stereo analog signals we've listened to for years.

(There's HD AM broadcasting too, but since the AM band is mostly for speech, and not music, HD AM doesn't really matter at the moment.)

Monday, March 31, 2008

AM radio not feeling buzz of digital

We always expect technology to come running to our rescue. The latest cell phone or computer always packs more power or features, so the last thing you'd expect would be a technological advance that takes us a step backward.

But that's the story when it comes to digital AM radio. Now, don't be confused: Digital FM radio is being rolled out -albeit very slowly - without problems when it comes to reception. It's on the old AM dial where the trouble is.

You remember AM - where top 40 once ran free with jabberjaw deejays, jangling jingles and near-constant promotion. Today's youth are probably barely aware of the band's existence, living in their "I" world of iPods and iTunes.

Yet AM radio now faces a problem more insidious than just being ignored. A so-called technological upgrade - the conversion to a digital delivery system - threatens to turn the dial into a sea of static.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let’s Go Shopping: HD Radio in Cincy

One Man’s Buying Experience in Ohio Suggests The Receiver Push Is Having Mixed Success

by Thom Moon, 3.12.2008

Moon has spent more than 30 years in radio, mostly developing and analyzing audience research; he describes himself as an even longer-term, all-around radio geek. Reach him at

There has been any number of stories in the trades about the lack of HD Radios at retailers and retail people who know little or nothing about the technology.

Radio World suggested that I see if that had changed any recently.

So I made the rounds of stores that sell electronics in the Cincinnati area. What I found was some improvement; but a lot is yet needed.

Black Friday for HD Radio

Black Friday for HD Radio

This week's Convergence conference in San Jose was a terrific gathering of broadcasters and their partners who feel radio's best days might very well lay ahead. No sticks in the mud, these. Rather, folks with brains and vision and a plan, or at least the hopes of developing one.

This was no place for spin doctors and conventional wisdom. So I was not surprised when Kurt Hanson spoke on radio's future with an emphasis on radio's inevitable future on the Internet.

Nor was I surprised when Kurt veered left to discuss - and dismiss - HD Radio.

What fascinated me was the reaction.

Any room full of broadcasters is full of HD radio doubters, nowadays. But the vibe in this room was remarkable for the eye-rolling and audible snickering that greeted virtually any mention of HD.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

HD: If a Tree Falls & No One Hears It . . .

Chasing an audience that has migrated to iPods, Internet radio, pay satellite services and the burgeoning world of cellphone music, the AM and FM radio industry has spent the past couple of years beckoning listeners to discover the "secret stations" of HD radio.

But what is the secret? If you were to shell out somewhere between $80 and $300 for a new radio capable of receiving the digital signals that have added about 1,600 stations across the country, what would you hear?

I spent the better part of a week listening to the HD offerings on Washington stations, and came away impressed by the commitment two stations have made to the new technology but underwhelmed by the great majority of what's on HD.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turning some tight corners for IBOC

The Big Picture by Skip Pizzi
Radio World Feb 1 2008

Sentiment against AM IBOC is gradually morphing from a fringe movement to a serious threat, as official complaints are being filed with the FCC and major AM stations are pulling the plug on their IBOC exciters. It will be interesting to see what response comes from the FCC in the coming months, if any.

The lack of strong consumer interest in HD Radio is well documented, and the longer this malaise continues, the harder it will be to reverse.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Will Small Markets Convert to HD Radio? Survey Suggests Not Soon

Jan 28 2008

Much has been written about large-market adoption of IBOC. A college instructor has been tracking conversions in smaller markets in Pennsylvania and identifies several factors as so-called “gating” items for its success.

Gary McIntyre, a broadcasting/mass communications instructor at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, in the northern portion of that state, tells me he mailed out 100 questionnaires to stations in Arbitron markets No. 150 and higher.

The survey consisted of 15 questions asked of station GMs, ops managers and CEs; the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters provided contact information.

McIntyre asked them whether the stations intended to convert their facilities in the next 12 months; he also made queries about multicasting, HD-R receiver availability and station promotion of IBOC.

Of the 100, he received 50 surveys back. Of those, only one station had converted to HD-R.

“Eighty-six percent of the remaining respondents indicated it would be highly unlikely or somewhat unlikely” they would convert their stations over the next 12 months, according to his report. Six percent indicated it would be neither likely nor unlikely, and only 6% indicated it would be likely, he told me.

CNET Review - Sangean HDR-1 - portable radio

Of course, we can't let a discussion of the Sangean HDR-1 end without listing our major gripe--that the whole HD Radio format doesn't (for most people) deliver a particularly major improvement over the analog radio experience. To our ears, the HD Radio stations weren't delivering a dramatic improvement over their analog counterparts. And while we welcomed the presence of digital-only HD2 stations on the dial, many of them seemed to be noticeably compressed--more MP3 than CD. Moreover, the data streams seemed limited to artist, song, and show title information. That's nice, but nothing that can't be done with RDS information on analog stations, and some of the HD stations seem to lack the informational displays altogether. While the digital stations certainly offer static-free reception, that's only if they're within range; a distant HD station will drop in and out if it's too far away. Even more disturbing is that some nearby HD stations seem to blink out randomly--the cell-phone-like signal meter drops a full six bars to zero and then shoots back up again a few seconds later, even when the radio is completely stationary. To reiterate, none of these problems are the fault of Sangean HDR-1. The same issues exist on the Polk I-Sonic and Cambridge 820HD, and will continue to exist for any and all HD Radio receivers until the stations decide to offer more bandwidth and better data support.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Constructive Dialogue On The Future Of Audio Entertainment, from Edison Media Research

This links to a collection of postings specifically on HD Radio; check out all the other information on the site.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

High-def radio is here, but is anyone listening?

Radio fanatics can't get high definition tuners installed in their Lexus nor can they currently purchase one at a local Circuit City store.
But 19 Utah stations are broadcasting 31 high-definition radio channels with six more coming soon. And the University of Utah's KUER has been raising money to help it add a classical and alternative rock station to its news, talk and jazz channel.
It seems the stations are investing in technology the public isn't quite ready to embrace.